Silicon Valley Bank Becomes Largest Failure Since 2008 Crisis

The Breakdown


For the purposes of our conversation today, the key dynamic in silvergate that we want to think about is this idea of a duration mismatch between short term deposits and long-term loans. It is also worth noting at this point that banks having that sort of duration mismatch isn't necessarily them acting badly. It is fundamentally what fractional reserve banking does. Joe wiesenthal from Bloomberg tweeted, every time a bank gets into trouble, people are like, they took short term deposits and made long-term loans. What were they thinking? As if that's not the business model of every bank ever. All of which gets us to Silicon Valley bank. For the TLDR in this situation, I'm going to turn to a great little explainer from investor Jamie quint. Jamie writes, in 2021, SVB saw a mass influx in deposits, which jumped from 62 billion or so at the end of 2019 to around a 190 billion at the end of 2021. As deposits grew SVB could not grow their loan book fast enough to generate the yield they wanted to see on this capital. As a result, they purchased a large amount over 80 billion in mortgage backed securities with these deposits for their hold to maturity portfolio. 97% of these mortgage backed securities were ten plus year duration, with a weighted average yield of 1.56%. The issue is that as the fed raised interest rates in 2022 and continued to do so through 2023, the value of SVB mortgage backed securities plummeted. This is because investors can now purchase long duration, quote unquote, risk free bonds from the fed at a 2.5 X higher yield. This is not a liquidity issue as long as SVB maintains their deposits. Since the securities will pay out more than they cost eventually. However, yesterday afternoon, SVB announced that they had sold 21 billion of their available for sales securities at a $1.8 billion loss, and were raising another 2.25 billion in equity in debt. This came as a surprise to investors who were under the impression that SVB had enough liquidity to avoid selling their AFS portfolio. So as you can see, here we again have the same structural problem faced by the assets in silver Gates portfolio. Those assets had unrealized losses because interest rate increases in the wider environment had made them less valuable relative to government bonds, which wouldn't have been an issue unless they were forced to sell, but boom, all of a sudden they were forced to sell.

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